BEREA—Jimmy Haslam III met with the Cleveland media for about 25 minutes and was very impressive. Besides the media, Scott Fujita and D’Qwell Jackson were in attendance.
After being introduced by Mike Holmgren, Haslam stood on the podium and answered questions very articulately. However, one of the first things he said will resonate with Browns fans.
“The most important thing we can do is win in football,” Haslam said.
Haslam was accompanied by his wife, Dee and father, James Haslam II, founder of The Flying J/Pilot Center Corporation.
He said moving the Browns from Cleveland was never an issue and it won’t be an issue. He did say that Cleveland Browns Stadium will probably someday have naming rights.
“I don’t pretend to be an expert,” he said. “I plan to be there. “But, this is a good young team on the upswing.”
Haslam couldn’t talk about any personnel issues until the NFL officially approves the sale with 24 of 32 owners needing to sign off on the move. However, Haslam alluded to Holmgren and Tom Heckert throughout the session. Most questions regarding personnel have centered on whether Holmgren and Heckert will stay on after the sale becomes official in the coming weeks or months.
“I think there’s a strong feeling in town Mike (Holmgren) and his team do have the team headed in the right direction.”
He also said that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told him the 31 days it took to complete the sale was the ‘quickest sale in the league’. Haslam said he first talked with Randy Lerner on July 2 and the deal was signed on Aug. 3.
Haslam said there was only one message he wanted to leave with fans.
“If you remember just one thing from today, remember the Haslam’s are here to bring winning football to Cleveland.”
After being a minority owner of the Steelers for the past four years, Haslam said he took off his Steelers watch when the sale was finalized and only referred to the Steelers as “that other team”.
Haslam did say that he learned a big thing from the Steelers was the continuity and building through the draft.
“I understand the rivalry between Pittsburgh and Cleveland and our main goal is to return it to a rivalry,” he said. “I take no credit for what happened there. They have the Steeler way of doing things and building through the draft and we’re going to do things the Browns way.
Haslam said his wife was immediately looking for a home in the Cleveland area and they will also retain their primary residence in Knoxville, Tennessee, where the corporation’s headquarters are.